Looking for something out of the box to give the kiddies for next Christmas (or their next birthday)?

This grandma’s brilliant Adventure Box idea is bound to put a smile on tiny faces all year long.

Every year after the mad Christmas morning rush, my house looks like a toy store exploded in our living room. In addition to the surplus of talking dolls and oversized inflatables, there’s the mountains of wrapping paper, plastic moulds and boxes that the kids leave behind in the wake of their toy mania.

Grandma’s big adventure!

One very clever Nonna came up with a brilliant Christmas gift for her grandsons that we are definitely adding to Santa’s list for next year. It doesn’t involve toys, plastic moulds or batteries. And it’s something that the entire family can enjoy throughout the year.

Image via Darlene Howell Waller

Meet the Adventure Box – a standard box filled with 12 brown paper envelopes, each labelled and decorated. In each envelope there is everything the family needs to enjoy a monthly activity.

The gift of time

One month it’s bowling and laser tag, complete with tokens to the gaming area. Another month it’s movie tickets. There’s a trip to the horse stables, spending money for a day at Disneyland and tickets to a ball game.

Christmas adventure box
Image via Darlene Howell Waller

But here’s the kicker – the kids don’t open every envelope on Christmas Day. They open one envelope on the first day of each month, meaning every month they get a surprise and a family adventure!

She even includes a note, explaining that, “this year, my sweet boys, I give you the gift of time.” Because, let’s face it, the best gift of all is the gift of spending time with the ones you love.

Adventure Box letter
Image via Darlene Howell Waller

Darlene Howell Waller shared her idea on Facebook and the world has gone mad for it! And rightfully so – what a brilliant way to bring the family together, not just for Christmas, but for every month of the year!

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to start planing our Adventure Box ASAP. Just after I finish cleaning up all the leftover wrapping paper…

Looking for more ways to make Christmas extra special this year? Check out these 11 magical traditions to take on this Christmas

Looking for more alternatives to toys? Here are seven ideas that aren’t toys to get you started.


Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.


  1. LOVE this idea! Thank you so much for sharing! Do you mind sharing what was in each of the 12 envelopes? I loved the few adventures that you did mention! Thank you!

    • Maybe rather than buying it all at once, start now. Buy a January gift for Jaunary 2020 in January 2019 and February 2020’s gift is purchased in February 2019 and so forth. Helps spread out the cost somewhat. 😉

    • In response to the ” really expensive ” comment/s – christmas is about giving, and big or small this can be accomadated according to budget easily, and envelope xan say picnic at the adventure park in the next suburb/town over, go on a hike, camping adventure, a night of fishing, bake goodies together such as cake and cookies, you could easily think pf in expensive ways to fill them up with promises to spend extra special family time together once a month , i know that you may do this already but taking the time to pre plan, print out photos of a new.fishing spit you’ve never been, a new hime trail ypu have never tried, etc….

      Just my thoughts anyhow….

      • You just gave some excellent ideas Hollie that we can all afford. Thank you !

      • Exactly what I was thinking. These monthly gifts can be very inexpensive.. February can be hot chocolate/cookies/movie night..(send a movie or ticket to red box..box if hot chocolate..they can buy it bake cookies). Loving this idea!!!

    • You could do even a few …….would not have to be the entire year of them…….i like the idea but could not afford 12 months myself……but will do some for their birthday months and summer months, when they have no school…….

  2. I would love to do this for our grandkids, but with 6, this could get expensive. Any great ideas for less expensive monthly surprises?

    • I think a family game night like Uno could be fun,or a craft activity,movie night with their favorite snack of course! These would be less expensive and can include children of all ages

    • Robin.. look above for comments on inexpensive monthly gifts..
      Do they do DIY crafts…use popsicle sticks/paint/glue/glitter.. have them make Ty cards in January for people..

  3. Please share ideas. My daughter has three kids ages 6, 4 and 3. Some thoughts come to mind are go to the park with Gammy and then for ice cream. Another is bowling. How about one envelope for date night for mom and dad and Gammy babysits and has a movie night. I too am trying to think of ideas that don’t cost a lot of money. My daughter specifically asked this year that we don’t buy toys but experiences. To make this more cost-effective I think you could put in two or three things that would involve some money such as signed up for swim lessons or go to the pottery place and paint pottery. I would love to hear other ideas!

    • You might like to buy them an annual subscription to your local toy library so the kids get the experience of quality toys without the consumerism/storage/expense/wastefulness involved with buying them. It is also an ‘experience’ becoming part of the toy library community, meeting new people, and learning that we don’t need to own everything.

    • Candy.. I’ve thought about making Ty cards as a family craft for gifts received.. paper bags from grocery stores can be used for the cardstock. A couple pieces of pretty papers usually 50¢> hours construction paper etc . Popsicle sticks to frame a photo for Gramma doing something in her adventure box.

  4. What about ice cream. If your local ice cream place is too expensive grab a half gallon get bowls and spoons and take him to the park. Put a thing if sprinkles in a bag

    Geocaching has free geocaches. Which is like a modern day scavenger hunt.

    Bake cookies put a cookie cutter in a bag

    Make a treasure map and hide a lunch or other activity

    Teach old games hopscotch jacks

    Build paper boats

    Have a game night, put a bag of microwave popcorn

    Make paper airplanes and have contests. Put paper in a bag

    Go to the thrift shop and get a funky accessory or shirt and then go window shopping through the mall wearing it

    Paint ornaments

    Paint rocks and leave in public. This is actually a thing you can look it up

    Get a hot chocolate or make it and the walk-through a favorite spot

    Save or get some big boxes and make a tent in the livingroom and camp out

    Make a movie

    Have a water balloon fight

    Take lots of pictures of everything you’ve done the year and spend one time making a scrapbook. If you can’t afford a scrapbook then get folders and put paper in there and make it that way.

    Plus if you do some tokens or pictures of what you will do you can spread Christmas out moneyeise too

    • I thought the same. Where’d the 15 yr old grandma get the $ for this??

    • Well, my handwriting looks almost exactly like the letter shown, and I’m a 58 year old grandma of 5 adorable kiddos! You’re probably comparing this letter, to the way OUR grandma’s handwriting looked, and, i know both of my grandma’s had atrocious handwriting….(and their spelling was pretty atrocious too! ) But, most of the grandma’s of today’s youngest generation of little humans, were raised in the 60’s, and 70’s…so, our hands are still pretty steady, and not too arthritic, yet.. With any luck, those problems will have better solutions by the time they start causing issues for us! Enjoy your day, and have a great Christmas!

  5. Ideas…
    have a tie dye day and make your own shirts or socks,
    make steppingstones for outside,
    have your family picture taken (local photographers often have ‘mini sessions’ that are not as expensive and can be very fun!),
    Take a dance class together,
    Try a new restaurant out,
    Let your children plan your whole meal… and then actually eat what they have planned. They LOVE it!
    A trip to the book store,
    A ferry ride,
    Sand in the city or the local beach,
    A local fair with a concert, or
    Go to a movie.
    Really the list is endless and if your looking for less expensive you can/have to plan ahead and watch for sales. Zoo tickets often have discounts for other zoos on the back.

  6. Can you share what the twelve envelopes are? Would like to start working on this now!

  7. Great Idea. I wasn’t ever this organized.
    We would do a park crawl. 30 minutes in a park then on to another one in our town Lunch in the park we packed. Purchase coffee cups at Dollar Tree and decorate with chalk board paint.
    Learn cooking. Made homemade noodles, cookies, artichoke dip and other family favorites.
    Create thank you cards to send to someone special or a birthday card. Cards for shut ins from church.
    Making cookies and delivering to others
    Christmas caroling to friends at their home. 2 songs and off to another home.
    A mixture of fun and thinking of others.
    Now all of my grandchildren are in college or the business world. Enjoy a quiet spot talking to them.

  8. My husband can get very boring. I think I am going to make one of these for his present. So many ideas will work for a couple too. This is such a great idea.

  9. Maw maw Bridget Reply

    Wonderful idea thanks for sharing. I try to spend as much time as I can with my grandkids. This will really help.

    • Read the comments. There are many, many choices of almost no cost ideas! Focus on the positive and what you can do instead of what you can’t do.

  10. Some grandparents might have too many grandkids to commit to doing something with all of them every month, but even just one carefully thought out activity would be appreciated and remembered by the recipients. Love everyone’s ideas and suggestions – so many ideas which, rather than requiring big $$$, just need a bit of forethought, planning, patience and good humour! And I love how the special presentation of a voucher in an envelope – with or without accessories depending on the activity – makes it look fabulous from the get go.

  11. Wow….this is a perfect fun-filled gift that can last a whole year! I appreciate the other ideas that are less expensive also.
    I have to make a list of all of the ideas coming into my head!! Thanks so much♡

  12. I would add some free things in this as well. My granddaughter loves hiking and street festivals,. We go on picnics at area parks. I’ll print a nature scavenger hunt or we’ll hike and since she has a camera, she will take pictures of plants and bugs, then we try to identify them. Anything to spend time with them is always amazing!

  13. Where did you find your envelopes or did you make them!
    Thank you for the great ideas

  14. I did something similar to this when my kids were young. In each ones Christmas stocking, I put a credit card sized “Family Fun Club” card with an activity for each month listed on the back. Some were free, some involved mini day trips. They also had stickers to put beside each month after we completed it.

    I’m now looking forward to planning our Grammy & Grandpa’s Adventure Box for our grandsons. It’s such a great way to keep Christmas excitement all year long and make special memories with the grands.

  15. Teri Fehringer Reply

    I too would love for you to share what was in the 12 envelopes. Looking for some fun ideas that will make memories with my grandkids that they will remember.

  16. First of all, thanks for sharing a wonderful idea as I like this idea moreover you can pack envelopes and gift them a wonderful thing which they can’t imagine to be. As all of these ideas are new and seems to be interesting in all.

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